Tag: exercise (page 1 of 3)

Dealing with mental pain

This article is from a series that Arthur C. Brooks has in The Atlantic entitled ‘How to Build a Life’. He includes four bits of advice but I’m sharing this mainly so I can share my own approach to dealing with general background anxiety and existential angst.

First, I found several years ago that taking L-Theanine tablets every day is a gamechanger. I recommend them to anyone who will listen. And then, recently, I’ve found that running almost every day makes a huge difference. I literally can’t be anxious while running.

Man sitting with cast on leg

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy tool to blunt everyday mental pain a bit? Not to become numb to life—just to take the edge off, especially when it is interfering with normal life, the way you can swallow a Tylenol when your back hurts. It turns out that there are safe and healthy methods to do exactly this, including taking the same sort of painkiller for what ails your body and your mind. And that’s only the beginning.

Source: A Shortcut for Feeling Just a Little Happier – The Atlantic

You don’t need a personal trainer

On Saturday, my Garmin smartwatch told me that my ‘fitness age’ is now 33.5. This is eight years younger than my chronological age, and apparently as low as I can get it using the Garmin app.

This is not a surprise to me. Covid absolutely battered my lungs from January to March. So I decided to do something about it, and built up to running every single day.

Willpower is necessary to form habits, but then willpower is necessary in life in general. So yes, get a personal trainer as this guy has done. But someone shouting at you to try harder is an extrinsic motivator. What you need to do is to develop intrinsic motivation to go harder and be better.

We all know the benefits of regular exercise, from living longer to better mental clarity. However, it is notoriously difficult advice to digest, especially for someone in their early 20s who hasn’t even experienced a real hangover. The gist of the advice being that money and career success will come if you work at it. But prioritise your mental and physical health and your day-to-day work will improve. It’s much easier to stay in shape than it is to stagnate and rebuild your fitness. Your 40 year-old self will thank you.

For a long time I’ve know this to be true. During periods of consistent exercise I’ve had more energy and mental clarity throughout the day. My personal outlook on life is generally better as well. Not to mention that outdoor activities with friends are more accessible and less daunting. Despite this, it has still always been a struggle to stay consistent.

A wave of “habit fetishism” has swept through the West in recent years with books like Atomic Habits regularly topping the best seller lists. It’s a tantalising concept as it sells an easy way to “live the life you’ve always wanted”.

It may work for some, but very few people who try these techniques actually “live the life of their dreams”. What keeps fit people going to the gym on a regular basis isn’t wearing their running shoes to bed at night. It’s discipline and accountability.

This brings me to the best investment I’ve ever made: A personal trainer.

Source: The best investment | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ Herman’s blog

Coffee and its impact on fitness

It’s good to read this, which is a side product of the excellent Just One Thing podcast.

I currently drink a couple of cups of coffee per (working) day — one at around 10:00 and the other at about 14:30. Given I often exercise in the middle of the day, this actually works out pretty well!

Studies have shown that coffee improves almost every aspect of sports performance, whether it’s strength, explosive speed, endurance or skill.. Dr James Betts, Professor of Metabolic Physiology at the University of Bath, says: “I would put caffeine on top of the list of supplements that boost physical performance – both for the size of effect that you get, and the breadth.”

One way that coffee boosts performance is by blocking the action of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical messenger in your brain which makes you feel tired. Caffeine blocks the action of adenosine, helping you go on for longer without getting tired. “You could do worse than imagining adenosine to be like a brake that’s going to slow down your neural activity. Caffeine essentially hits the same receptors to prevent sleepiness,” explains Prof Betts.

Another way coffee works to boost exercise performance is by raising your levels of adrenaline, which can reduce pain and delay fatigue. It could also have effects on your fat and muscles.

Source: Can coffee make you fitter? | BBC Radio 4 – Just One Thing